Things Congress Could Do for Peace, From Easiest to Hardest

By David Swanson

When talking about how to fund useful projects, or talking about the federal budget or the U.S. economy, talk as if U.S. military spending exists. With 67 percent of federal discretionary spending going to militarism, don’t talk about the “size” of the government as if only the other 33 percent exists. Be aware of the fact that military spending is an economic drain, not a jobs program, and speak accordingly.

Have a position on what a basic outline of the federal budget ought to look like. Put it in a pie chart on your website next to last year’s actual federal budget.

Be aware that the nuclear doomsday clock is closer to midnight than ever, and talk about it.

Talk about wars. When talking about people fleeing U.S.-armed and U.S.-trained killers in a U.S.-backed coup government in Honduras, call them refugees, not immigrants, not bad parents, not ravaging hordes. When talking about environmental destruction, do not omit the military’s major role. When talking about the spread of racism and xenophobia, be aware that they consistently follow as well as facilitate war-making. When talking about militarized police and eroded civil liberties, talk about their origins. When talking about the need for funding for human and environmental needs, note what percentage of military spending would suffice. Stop calling the United States the greatest nation on earth, and instead make the explicit comparison to countries that spend less on war and have higher life expectancy, greater health, better education, stronger democracy, etc.

When talking about wars, be aware that U.S. weapons dealing exists, and that U.S. weapons are sent to most governments on earth that the U.S. government itself defines as dictatorships. Be aware that most of the places we call violent manufacture no weapons. Be aware that U.S. weapons are on both sides of many wars. Be aware that converting to non-military jobs can be economically beneficial, and talk about it.

When talking about the victims of wars, talk about non-U.S. victims too. When the non-U.S. victims make up 97 percent of the victims, don’t talk about them 5 percent of the time; talk about them 97 percent of the time. Don’t call unidentified families “insurgents” or anything other than human beings. Don’t use the word “defense” for anything other than actions that are actually defensive.

When holding hearings about foreign policy, bring in outside experts. Every war’s initiation and continuation are promoted to you by the Pentagon as last resorts while experts in nonviolent conflict resolution who could point out infinite alternatives go unconsulted. Stop asking for views on current and future wars exclusively from witnesses who’ve consistently been wrong up to this point.

Pass legislation to create an immediate moratorium on the use of PFAS chemicals in military exercises, and revise agreements with U.S. state and local governments and with foreign nations to allow them oversight of the environmental damage done by U.S. military bases.

Pass legislation to halt U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. This crucial treaty reduces the chances of nuclear war. The INF Treaty must remain in effect, and Congress should refuse to fund weapons prohibited by the Treaty.

Pass legislation to end all U.S. weapons sales and military training to dictatorships.

End war rehearsal exercises in Europe and South Korea.

Use the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. participation in the war on Yemen.

Use the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. war in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Somalia.

Repeal the AUMFs.

Enforce your actions, when not complied with, through the power of the purse, the power of subpoena, the power of inherent contempt, and the power of impeachment.

Pass the Berta Carceres Act to end U.S. funding of killers in Honduras.

Pass a resolution renouncing and apologizing for the Monroe Doctrine.

Pass legislation banning the U.S. military from openly or secretly paying sports leagues to celebrate militarism.

Pass legislation requiring that for every dollar the U.S. government spends advertising militarism, it spend a dollar advertising nonviolent peace forces and unarmed civilian protection.

Pass legislation defunding any government agency that does not pass an audit within a year.

Pass legislation closing U.S. military bases in nations ruled by dictatorships.

Pass legislation requiring that U.S. military bases remain open or get built only in nations where a majority of the local population supports keeping the base open or creating the new base in an internationally verified and open public referendum.

Ban the training or arming of U.S. domestic police by the U.S. or any foreign military.

Ban gun training in U.S. public schools.

Ban drone murders.

Announce a global challenge: a reverse arms race.

Pass military funding that meets your required reductions.

Pass economic conversion legislation that provides retraining and support to anyone impacted.

End military “aid” and the practice of referring to it as having been aid.

Pass legislation requiring that actual humanitarian aid be based on level of need, not a military agenda, and that U.S. foreign aid exceed, by per capita and per GDP measures, that of any other country.

Take all available measures to support U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights optional protocols; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the Convention Against Torture optional protocol; the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities; the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity; the Principles of International Cooperation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition, and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity; the Convention on Cluster Munitions; the Land Mines Convention; the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; the proposed treaties banning the weaponization of space and banning cyber crimes.

Instruct the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to support the democratization of that body and the end to the Security Council veto.

Cease arming the Israeli government, and cease protecting Israeli crimes from international sanction.

Pass a resolution thanking whoever was responsible for informing the U.S. public of the misconduct of the Democratic Party during its last presidential primaries, and apologizing to the Russian government for blaming it for providing that service without any proof that it did so.

End all hostility toward Russia.Φ

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Swanson was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here.

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